This is a guest post from one of our very close family friends who came to visit us in Sarasota! We are so happy she wrote this post for us and we hope you enjoy!
Shopping While on Vacation – A Great Way to Preserve the Memories
As a first-time visitor to Sarasota, I was expecting beautiful white sand beaches, warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. Even the quality of restaurants didn’t surprise me that much, but I have to say that I was amazed and pleased with the wonderful shopping experience the Sarasota area had to offer. After all, I am from Chicago! I had no problem finding souvenirs, and to my surprise, I was able to complete much of my Christmas shopping while sightseeing in Sarasota and the surrounding islands.
While in the downtown area, I wandered into a charming shop on 1st Street called Envie where I found unique gifts that my artist sister could appreciate including a gorgeous dragonfly ornament and a decorative bejeweled box. Down the same street, I discovered I Tesori where I purchased a shiny keychain wallet for my niece. This shop also had an impressive collection of Murano glass beads, designer jewelry and clothing. It seemed that everywhere I turned there were interesting shops, boutiques and galleries.
Anna Maria is a barrier island about seven miles in length located south of Tampa Bay and in Manatee County on the west coast of Florida. It is an absolute treasure that is geographically stunning with gorgeous blue waters and sandy beaches accessible only by fabulous bridge crossings. This “Island in the Sun” was originally used for hunting and fishing by various Indian tribes and was not inhabited by permanent residents until the 1890s. Anna Maria preserves the feel of old Florida while still feeling fresh with charming restaurants, shops and entertainment. The island is broken up into the three cities of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria City that each seamlessly blend together.
Traveling Gals Tip: Always check local events calendars to see what special events are going on in the area during your stay!
Anna Maria City is farthest north on the island. The bay side has views of St. Petersburg and the striking Sunshine Skyway Bridge. A highlight of Anna Maria City is Pine Avenue. This street is lined with cute shops and restaurants and ends at the bay leading onto the City Pier. This pier and the next pier over “The Rod and Reel” both have great restaurants. These are also the piers where the locals fish. It is great chatting with the amateur fisherman and grabbing a bite afterwards. Plus you can’t beat the scenery! The hidden gem of Anna Maria City is Bean Point. Bean Point is the northernmost tip of the island where the Gulf of Mexico meets Tampa Bay. It is nestled past the City Pier in a residential neighborhood. Its entrance is a tree lined path between two residences and you can only park on the street. It is a serene oasis and the perfect place to watch the sunset as the cruise ships go by on their way out to the Gulf. You may have to ask directions, but it is worth it when you find it!